National Geographic : 1961 Jun
KODACHROMEBY W. ROBERTMOORE, NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSTAFF (Continuedfrom page 822) royal state barges. Long gilt-and-red hulls lay propped above the muddy skidways like stranded sea serpents. Sweeping prows of the larger craft are fancifully carved to represent figures from Hindu mythology: the Hansa (swan), the multiheaded Naga (cobra), and the birdlike Garuda. During World War II some of the craft were damaged by an Allied bomb aimed at Japa nese forces. They have since been repaired and regilded for state ceremonial processions. One of these is the King's visit to the river side wats, or temples, during the Tot Kathin festival in late October or early November. Arrayed on the river, these craft seem al most to come alive. The King rides in a gilded pavilion set amidships on the great Hansa barge; high officials ride in the others. Fifty red-clad boatmen man each of the royal craft. Gilded paddles dip the water, then flash upward in the sunlight to the beat of the coxswain's staff setting the rhythm for an ancient chant. "Some of our people feel that such cere monies and festivals are outdated - that with our modern changes they should be aban doned," Prince Dhani Nivat, scholarly head of the Privy Council, told me. "But I think it would be unfortunate to lose them. They 827 N.GS.